Philippines rolls out booster shot for immunocompromised children aged 12-17


The national government on Wednesday has rolled out the first COVID-19 booster dose for immunocompromised children ages 12 to 17 in hospitals.

In a Super Radyo dzBB interview, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the additional dose could only be given to the immunocompromised adolescents in hospitals and not in malls or barangays for safety reasons. 

“Ang rollout niyan today pero hospital-based ‘yan kasi unahin natin ‘yung 12 to 17 immunocompromised,” he said.

“Hospital-based ang bakunahan nito kasi immunocompromised ‘yan, so may mga kondisyon ‘yan na dapat mino-monitor. ‘Yan ang bibigyan ng additional dose of the primary series,” he added.

(The rollout is today but it is hospital-based because we will prioritize the 12 to 17 immunocompromised. The vaccination is hospital-based because the immunocompromised have conditions that must be monitored. They will be given the additional dose of the primary series.)

Duque, who recently approved the Health Technology Assessment Council's (HTAC) recommendation on the administration of the first Pfizer booster shots for the 12 to 17 age group, also pointed out that the additional dose given for the said booster is called a third dose.

“Actually hindi naman talaga booster ang tawag, it’s an additional dose, part the primary series and naging recommendation ng Health Technology Assessment Council [It’s not really a booster, but an additional dose or part of the primary series, as recommended by the HTAC],” he said.

Based on the guidelines released by DOH on Wednesday, immunocompromised children aged 12-17 may receive their first booster at least 28 days after the administration of the second dose of COVID-19. 

The agency also defined the immunocompromised individuals as:

  • those who have been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • those who had received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • those who received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicines to suppress the immune system
  • those with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome

  • those with advance or untreated HIV infection
  • those with active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress immune response
  • those on chronic dialysis
  • those living with autoimmune disease, and treatment with specific immunosuppressive medications
  • those diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have equivalent level of immunocompromised state as advised by the attending physicians

The DOH said medical centers and hospitals will accommodate walk-ins and referrals from Community Health Officers, Rural Health Units, or any health facility.

Parents or guardians must also accompany the minors at the vaccination side and bring the recipient’s vaccination card with complete details of the administered primary series, medical certificate by attending physician detailing the comorbidity of the patient, and valid ID or document of the parents and guardian, and the vaccine recipient.

Boosters for non-immunocompromised

Further, National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) chairperson Dr. Myrna Cabotaje said that non-immunocompromised children aged 12 to 17 could only take their first booster shot at least five months after the administration of their second COVID-19 dose.

“Inuna natin [ang immunocompromised] para hindi ma-confused, may onting partida ika nga, para sanayin na ang ating health workers na ang interveral ng immunocompromised ay 28 days, doon sa healthy ay five months,” Cabotaje said at a Laging Handa briefing.

“Isususnod din natin after one or two days. Sa Thursday, maglalabas na tayo sa rest of the pediatric,” she added.

(We prioritized the immunocompromised so as not to not raise confusion, and to give allowance to our health workers as the interval for the immunocompromised is 28 days, while that of healthy is five months. We will also open up for the non-immunocompromised after one or two days. On Thursday, we will be releasing vaccines for the rest of the pediatric age group.)

Based on DOH’s latest data, only 14.8 million Filipinos have received their first booster dose, while at least 648,000 got their second booster dose.

Meanwhile, at least 70 million individuals are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the country. — RSJ/NB, GMA News